Anti-U.S. riots in Afghanistan lost some steam early this week, but American personnel still haven't returned to Afghan ministries following the point-blank killings of two U.S. officers by an Afghan security guard at the Interior Ministry. That incident was just one troubling episode in a week of violence triggered by the reportedly accidental burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers, straining the Afghan government's partnership with the U.S. and NATO. The Pentagon says it's sticking with its "fundamental strategy" of training Afghan forces to take over security duties by the end of 2014. But is this crisis a sign that it would be wiser to withdraw faster?
We should leave Afghanistan now: We have sacrificed money and lives to rid Afghanistan of the ruthless Taliban, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, "and in return all we get is hatred and attacks." We gain nothing by staying — we're tainted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's corruption, and the Afghan people are sick of having their nation occupied. "It's time for us to leave," before we have to mourn even more "pointless deaths."
"Afghan protests prove, it's time for us to leave"
Actually, this proves we have to stay: Obama's announcement of a planned speedy withdrawal helped create this mess, says Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest. The president essentially told America's enemies that we are "on the brink of psychological if not military defeat," which only emboldened them. The least bad option left is to "rescind the commitment to withdraw and hunker down for an indefinite stay," letting rivals in Afghanistan, Iran, and elsewhere know that the U.S. doesn't "fold."
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First, America needs to figure out what is best for America: Rioting or no, the Afghan people are surely better off with us than they are with the Taliban, says Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye. The Taliban cut off young women's noses while we "heal their scars." But we have to do what's in our "strategic interest." If we decide staying in Afghanistan is best for us, "we should stay to attend to those interests and do so unapologetically." Otherwise, "we should leave in all due haste."
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